Diamond Walker turns and twists on his skates, punctuating spins with a split, a flip, a handstand. Nearly 30,000 people follow the 32-year-old Tampa resident on Instagram, transfixed by the videos he posts gliding on his wheels.
Skating isn’t just a hobby for Walker.
“It’s how I get my confidence," he said. "Whenever I have my skates on I feel untouchable.”
Growing up in Kokomo, Indiana, "there wasn’t much to do except find trouble,” Walker said. “I had friends that were going in different directions and skating just kind of always kept me grounded and focused.”
Walking into the skating rink felt like entering a nightclub, with guys breaking into backflips and crazy jumps in the center of the floor. He started saving up money at age 13 to attend all-night skating sessions at the local rink.
“I saw the attention they were getting and it was mostly from girls, so that’s what led me to it,” he said.
Walker learned jam skating, which incorporates break dancing and tricks. He joined a local roller skating dance group called BreakSk8 in 2007. By the time he graduated high school in 2008, the group’s moves also grabbed the attention of MTV. The skaters were recruited for the show America’s Best Dance Crew. BreakSk8 was the only crew in the competition that danced on skates.
For the next decade, Walker traveled and performed shows on wheels. Skating was his career. He settled down last year in Florida after falling in love with the woman who would become his wife. They met at United Skates of Tampa.
Walker’s day job now consists of delivering packages for Amazon. Skating still dominates the rest of his life. He regularly shares videos of his skating practices online, often incorporating friends like fellow local skater Hunter Collins. His videos fit right in as skating has experienced a resurgence in popularity as cities went under lockdown.
“It took a global pandemic for skating to get highlighted and to get the attention," he said. “It’s always been there but the platform, like TikTok or Instagram, has really taken it to another level.
“Even with everything going on, you know I’m going to find a way to skate."